By the end of 2024, the vast majority of businesses will have a live chat feature on their website. It is quickly becoming a must-have in the communications mix, simply because customers expect it.
For the most part, your live chat will be used by your customer support team who help existing and prospective customers get quick answers to their questions. This alone can increase your website conversion rate and speed up your sales cycle. But beyond support, there are many ways live chat can be used to increase conversions and revenue over time.
A quick note on proactive vs. reactive live chat
There are two types of chat that appear on websites: Proactive live chat where a conversation automatically starts when a visitor comes to a page, and reactive live chat where a visitor needs to click on the chat box to ask a question or start a conversation.
When it comes to increasing conversions with live chat, we are predominantly referring to tactics that use proactive live chat. Don’t get us wrong, reactive live chat plays a role in conversions, specifically in shortening the sales cycle by giving leads a way to have their questions answered faster. But when it comes to conversions, it’s proactive live chat that really shines.
When should you use proactive live chat for conversions?
Think of your live chat as another call to action. If it’s going to distract from another high-converting CTA, it might not be worth having on the page.
For example, live chat may not be ideal for:
Landing pages that are specifically designed to encourage visitors to click on one key CTA
Ecommerce product pages where the main CTA is related to checking out
Pages where the live chat placement (usually the bottom right corner) is going to be obtrusive for the visitor
Proactive live chat can be particularly useful on pages where customers are more likely to have questions. For example:
Product pages where a feature or product is new
Contact us pages
About us pages
Pages with a higher-than-average bounce rate or lower-than-expected conversion rate
Keep track of the pages you choose to use proactive live chat. If conversion rates start to drop, switch back to reactive live chat or remove the chat box entirely. If conversion rates rise, take those learnings and see which other pages they could be applied to.
Right message, right place, right time. Sound familiar? The marketing rules of email, SMS, and every other digital platform apply to live chat too. Here are some best practices to keep in mind for proactive live chat:
The medium is the message
If your visitor is on the pricing page, your live chat should reference pricing. If your visitor is on the homepage, you should welcome them (but make sure they’re not a known user first). If your visitor has arrived on a new product page, ask them if they have any questions about that product. In other words, the message should always reference the content the visitor is viewing.
Timing is everything
You don’t want to hit your new visitor with proactive chat the very second they land on a page, but you do need to catch them before they bounce. How much time will largely depend on the content on the page.
If you have a homepage with a website or lengthy gif, you might want to wait up to 10-20 seconds before showing the chat, or have it appear when the user shows exit intent signals. For something like a pricing page, 5 seconds of time on page is plenty.
If you’re not sure, set up the message and test it out yourself, then keep an eye on performance and make tweaks as necessary.
Be a human
Every brand has their own tone of voice, and some brands are naturally more formal than others. Whatever your tone, live chat is the place to show the most human side of it. You want your visitors to feel comfortable speaking with you casually, and you want them to feel like they’re speaking to a person, not a bot.
Set expectations around response time
Most support teams are not staffed 24/7 globally, and that’s ok. Set clear expectations by showing when you have team members online or away, and let visitors know when they can expect to receive a response (e.g. within 24 hours) and how (e.g. email).
Create reports to generate insights
There is so much you can learn from your live chat conversations. Set up reports to track things like the most commonly asked questions on any given page, the time it takes for a visitor to respond to your proactive chat, and the impact of your chat on conversions. All of this data will help you optimize website content, better understand the customer journey, and identify what kind of questions indicate a lead is ready to buy.
How to use live chat to increase conversions
There are countless ways to use live chat to increase conversions. Here are five easy-to-execute goals, prompts, and workflows to will help you get started:
1. Demystify the pricing page
Of all the pages on your site, the pricing page is most likely the one that indicates the highest intent. They’re the people who are almost at the finish line — your pricing page prompt can help them cross over.
The goal here is to get your visitors to engage with a member of your team to chat through their pricing questions and ultimately get them over the line.
The prompt should be straightforward. E.g. ‘Hey, do you have any questions about our pricing?’
The workflow should include a notification to your sales team so that they can jump in and connect with the visitor in real-time. In off hours, you can implement a form or Calendly link so the visitor can set up a meeting right away. That form should trigger an automated email confirming the appointment.
2. Make features memorable
Visitors who are exploring different feature, product or service pages are showing signs of intent, but they’re not quite there yet. Your live chat can help you get a better understanding of what they’re looking for, and help to fast track their path to conversion.
The goal here is to engage your visitors and leave them with a memorable takeaway. Feature pages often have a lot of detail that gets skimmed over and forgotten. Use your live chat to surface the most powerful pieces of information or answer questions.
The prompt should be directly related to the feature. You can do one of two things: Use the prompt to promote the feature with social proof (e.g. quotes or results from case studies, customer reviews, or star ratings) or ask a specific question related to the feature (e.g. ‘Do you want to know more about our home loan fast-track process?)
The workflow could include a nurture journey related to the feature, you could also put them in a retargeting audience to stay top of mind at a crucial point in the buyer journey. Additionally, you can generate a lot of insights from these conversations — track the type of questions that users ask and the prompts that lead to conversions to prioritize information on your feature pages.
3. Capture more contact us page visitors
Putting a live chat on a page with a contact us form may feel counterintuitive, but it can be a great way to generate more hand raisers easily.
The goal is to capture the visitors who have an aversion to forms. Often people see a form and just can’t be bothered filling it in, they get distracted and forget, or they don’t want to wait for a response and answer. The proactive live chat gives you another chance to catch them before they exit.
The prompt you could ask the visitor to click on one of two options e.g. ‘Hey, were you looking for a demo or more information on pricing?’ or in business hours you could simply say "Our team is available now, do you want to chat?”
The workflow willcapture the responses from your visitor so your sales team can enter conversations with full context. In cases where a visitor does book a demo or conversation, you can enter them into a journey where they are asked a few more questions to better personalize the meeting.
4. Welcome at the front of house
Your homepage may not be a top-converting or even high-intent page, but it is often the entry page and has an outsized impact on the visitor's perception of who you are and what you offer.
The goal is to get visitors to spend more time with your site, and to leave a great impression.
The prompt for first-time visitors, your live chat could act as another way for the visitor to navigate your site. Say, ‘Welcome! Here are some popular pages' and then share links to your most viewed or most important pages. For repeat visitors, you could tweak this slightly to say, ‘Hey, welcome back. Can I help you find what you’re looking for?’
The workflow should help steer your visitor down the funnel, closer to conversion. This could include a form completion, entry into a lead nurture email journey, or retargeting ads. You can also use the insights generated from this chat to build a more useful homepage.
If you’re spending money on ads (who isn’t), you want to ensure you’re doing everything possible to convert the people who click on those ads. A live chat can help.
The goal is to convert the people who click on a paid ad and visit your website.
The prompt should be directly related to the campaign they saw. It could be a Google keyword or a LinkedIn campaign about a specific piece of content you have. You could use your proactive live chat to ask if they have any questions about a topic related to the keyword, or if they are interested in being sent an additional piece of content via email.
The workflow will largely depend on the ad and the prompt. If you’ve already captured their email address with the ad, any engagement with the live chat could just be another piece of information in the buyer journey. If they hand over an email address to receive a bonus piece of content, they could be entered into a nurture journey. In any case, prospects who click on an ad and then engage with a live chat should be considered high intent and hot leads, so you will want to make sure your sales team is notified in case proactive outreach is appropriate.
Website conversions are notoriously difficult. People get distracted, they don’t want to put a lot of effort into getting answers to simple questions, and unless they are ready to buy now (rare!), they often just browse and forget.
A live chat can help you capture more visitors and turn them into known users, convert high-intent visitors faster, and engage casual visitors to create a more memorable experience.